The City Council is considering a franchise tax increase as it reviews budget demands for the coming fiscal year. Mayor Joel Hall said Tuesday that the council will either pass the growing $1.48 million budget as is next week or call for an election for a tax increase. An earlier estimate put the budget at $1.36 million.
If the City Council decides to raise the franchise tax on cable television and telephone lines to 6 percent, it must first call for an election, said Hall. Those two utilities are now at 3 percent, while all others are at 6 percent. A franchise tax hike could bring an estimated $25,000 more into the budget.The council also wants to hire a city administrator who will double as a city planner. That will be a new position for this growing mountain town.
Councilwoman Phoebe Blackham also noted that the city wasn't putting any money away for future needs, such as a new city hall. City business takes place in the only city hall it has ever had, an historic old building on Main Street. Councilman Rob Bateman suggested the city also has other future needs, such as a library.
The city is also facing an approximate 40 percent increase in fire district expenses, including a $76,000 payment it must make on the $500,000 bond residents approved last year for a new fire station. That payment was left out of the original budget proposal. The fire station has yet to be built and has since been changed to become a public safety building with neighboring Highland.
The council approved an interlocal agreement with Highland following the public hearing on the budget Tuesday. The pact adds a joint police department and eventually an emergency medical service center to house and take care of a city ambulance service. The agreement also changes the name of the joint entity governing what was originally a fire district to Alpine-Highland Public Safety District.
Highland officials had already approved of the agreement, subject to Alpine's approval. The Highland contribution to the 1996-97 police budget is $355,632, up from the current year's nearly $275,000. That doesn't include about $34,000 in police overtime needed to control traffic during the open house of the new Mount Timpanogos Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.